The carpal tunnel supplies the fingers with the ability to flex and feel.
When CTS occurs, it usually comes on slowly overtime, though occasionally
direct trauma or force can cause it quickly. Much more women than men
have CTS; the reason for this is unclear. CTS occurs due to an increase
in fluid pressure, enlargement of the flexor tendons, small space of the
tunnel and scarring in the tunnel. All of these problems lead to increased
pressure and compression of the tunnel, which pinches the nerve. With
this comes tingling, numbness, burning and pain in the fingers. When squeezed
with pressure, the nerve cannot send messages to muscles and the hand weakens.
Diseases associated with CTS are diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis,
lupus and obesity. Other known risks for CTS are smoking, significant
changes in weight, certain medications, pregnancy and trauma or fractures.
Some people with carpal tunnel have a family history of CTS; others have
an anatomy, which narrows or compacts the tunnel. Jobs, which have strong
torque, gripping or vibration, can contribute to CTS.
Treatment for CTS includes splinting, reducing vibration and force to the
wrist, steroid injections and surgery. Surgery usually involves splinting
the carpal ligament, which is the cover for the tunnel. Cutting this ligament
opens the tunnel releasing pressure on the nerve. Within a few months,
most cases will recover and sensation will return. Muscle weakness may
take longer to recover.
For more information visit catawbavalleymedical.org.